In its seventh annual U.S. Animal Protection Law Rankings™, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) ranked the State of Michigan number four of the "best five" states in the U.S. and territories, rating laws in 15 categories, including law enforcement, sexual assault and cruelty reporting. A new category was added for 2012 called "Ag gag," which is a law whereby parties can't gain access to farm facilities under false pretenses. Ag gag laws are controversial because some believe they punish animal abuse whistle-blowers. In the 2012 rankings report, the ALDF's U.S. Animal Protection Law Rankings is described as, "the longest running and most authoritative report of its kind..." that assesses, "the strength of each jurisdiction's animal protection laws by examining over 4,000 statutes."
Michigan was ranked among the best, in part, because the state improved upon existing strengths, including:
- Strengthened existing felony animal cruelty laws.
- Additional felony penalties added for "repeated or aggravated animal neglect."
- Making "repeated abandonment, or abandonment that results in the death or
serious injury of an animal, a felony."
The best ranked ten U.S. states/territories for animal protection laws for 2012 were: Illinois, Maine, California, Michigan, Oregon, Washington (state), West Virginia, Indiana and Rhode Island.
The lowest ranked ten U.S. states/territories for animal protection laws in 2012 were: Hawaii, New Jersey, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa, North Dakota, Kentucky, Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.
The Michigan Humane Society has an animal cruelty division that investigates cruelty complaints in Detroit, Hamtramck and Highland Park. Those who suspect animal cruelty are urged to contact their hotline at 313-872-3401, Mon. through Sat. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Residents of Oakland County, MI may call Oakland County Animal Control at 248-391-4102, Mon. through Fri.from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Officers in Oakland County are on the road from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon. through Fri.
The ASPCA offers a generalized, detailed list of how to recognize animal cruelty. Signs that a cat has been abused include depression, withdrawal and fear of sudden noises and movements.
Visit the ALDF's website for more information about their 2012 report. To learn more about Michigan statutes pertaining to cats, visit the Michigan State University Legal and Historical Center. For statues for Washington, DC and other states besides Michigan, visit the ASPCA's State Cruelty Laws page and select a state of interest from a drop-down list.
Wherever you live, report what you see to the proper authorities if you suspect a cat is being abused or neglected because their lives depend upon us.